We’re willing to bet your wanderlust is in full swing and you’re probably itching to head on a trip sometime this year. Whether you’re planning a luxury escape overseas or an interstate weekend away, we agree that it’s about time you saw what the world has to offer. So before you get all excited packing your bags and booking your annual leave, consider whether your home security system is up to scratch.
While you could call a home security expert to install big locks and barbed wire fences around your home, installing a security system that makes use of your smart home setup is the best course of action.
All you have to do is connect a camera (or cameras) to your internet and you’ll be in possession of a home security system that’ll give you some peace of mind while you’re out and about. You can even rely on a smart home device or two to check in if your anxiety nags at you.
Here’s what you need to know about installing a new home security system or giving your current one an upgrade, along with a few smart camera suggestions.
What to consider before buying home security cameras
There’s a very wide range of devices to choose from with differing feature sets, price points, subscription options and setup routines. In addition, there’s a certain quantity of personal tailoring to keep in mind when choosing a home security camera solution, but overall you should consider the following features when comparing:
- Image quality: Cheaper cameras shoot only in Full HD, and some older ones are even worse than that. Paying more for 4K might make sense, as long as your home internet connection is up to the challenge.
- Design: If it’s going inside your home, does it match the décor, or is it uglier than a sewer rat? If it’s going to surveil the outside of your home, look for weather resistance, and consider if you want your cameras hidden from burglars, or obvious in order to deter them.
- Installation: This isn’t just software, but also whether your camera choices have optional mounts or brackets to affix them in place. You wouldn’t want your security camera stolen, right?
- Subscription costs: We’re afraid to tell you, but the cost of your security camera isn’t the only price you may pay. Some cameras are standalone and record to embedded storage, but many use the cloud. As such, these services usually come with a range of subscription offerings, from free limited tiers to complex multi-camera setups and long-term archives.
There’s a lot of really cheap camera options you can buy, but it’s worth being wary of the very cheapest, especially if they’re net-connected. If you can’t be sure that they’ll be updated, there’s a risk you could be installing a hacking point into your home. Then again, even the big brands can undergo this kind of crisis.
Pricing: From $74.99 per camera.
Subscription pricing: Basic plan is free, Standard Plan $US 4.99/month, Premier Plan $US 9.99/month, Business Plan $US 14.99/month.
Reolink provides a quite wide range of home security setups, from its standalone Argus cameras to full power over ethernet solutions for more detailed security needs. At the home level, however, many of its products rely on local storage rather than only cloud storage, which means that they can be a very cost-efficient way to enable home monitoring without having to pay extra for mandatory subscription recording.
That being said, Reolink also offers a cloud backup option for selected products, with pricing varying depending on how many cameras and how much storage you like; for most homes the US$4.99 month, which includes up to five cameras and 30GB storage option should be plenty.
Where to buy:
If you just want a single camera, the Reolink 4K Ultra HD Security Camera is on sale for $125.79 (down from $147.99), which is perfect for both indoor and outdoor installation. But if you’re only interested in surveilling your front porch, then go for the Reolink Outdoor Security Camera with Spotlight. It’s down to $72.99 (RRP $86.99).
If you’re looking for something more substantial, the Reolink Home Security System is currently on sale for $1,241.99 (down from $1599.99). This system package includes eight cameras, an 16-channel network video recorder, a night vision feature, 24/7 recording, remote access from anywhere and the ability to record video in 4K quality.
Pricing: From $59.95 for a single indoor camera up to $3,999 for a full-blown security system
Subscription: $3.99/month (or $39.99/yr) for a single camera or $12.99/month (or $129.99/yr) to keep watch with multiple devices.
Swann has some of the best industrial grade security monitoring systems in the biz (bonus points for being Australian). Known for kickstarting DIY security, Swann prides itself on its easy-to-install systems, affordability and single app ecosystem. Almost all feature sensor lighting, alarms, sirens and two-way talk.
But its Enforcer range is what makes it proud. If your priority is to catch burglers or assailants, then you’ll be pleased to know that this series boasts heat, motion and people detection that will trigger blue and red flashing lights, spotlights, mobile alerts, video recording and more. You also have the option to choose whether to store your data locally or in the cloud.
Where to buy:
For starters, the Swann Tracker Indoor 1080p camera is on sale for just $75.72 (down from $129.95) until midnight, 17 April. This is a great, affordable option if you’re in need of an indoor security camera that will let you monitor the comings and goings of your home.
However, the cheapest home security bundle from Swann is the AllSecure600 Wi-Fi NVR security system and it’s currently sitting at $449 (down from $699). It features four battery-operated 2K HD security cameras that can manage up to eight channels and store up to 64GB of footage.
Alternatively, if you need to keep watch over a larger area, you might want to go for the eight camera, 16 channel Swann Pro Enforcer security system. It’s down to $1,959.97, which means you save $839.98 off. While it might seem like a massive jump up from the aforementioned security system, keep in mind that you do enjoy 2TB of internal storage, 6K mega HD resolution along with flash features varying from person and vehicle detection as well as facial recognition.
Pricing: $99-$499 per camera/doorbell.
Subscription pricing: The Basic plan is $4.95/month or $49.95/year (single device), while the Plus plan is $15/month or $150/year (multi-device).
Ring is best known for its smart doorbell technology, but the Amazon-owned firm also produces a range of standalone camera devices for indoor or outdoor usage. As you’d expect they’re built with Alexa integration in mind. You do get alerts and can use Ring Doorbells without needing a subscription, but if you want any kind of video history you’ll need to pay for a subscription plan.
Ring’s plans are amongst the cheapest in the market starting at just $4/month for a single camera, and not much more to add any number of additional cameras to your account. The Plus plan is a little unusual, because you don’t get any extra length of recording or quality options, but instead an extended warranty and discounts on buying further Ring devices.
Where to buy:
If you head on over to Amazon Australia, you can get the Ring Video Doorbell (wired) for $95 (down from $119). Being an Amazon-owned device, you can pair it with the Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) for $229, so you can watch live-footage from the Ring on your Echo inside your home.
The Ring Video Doorbell 3 is also currently on sale for $254 (down from $299). This clever home security device can be set up anywhere in your home and allows you to speak with friends, family members and pets from your phone.
Pricing: $149-$449 per camera.
Subscription pricing: A Secure Plan is either $4.99/month (single camera) or $12.99/month (multi camera), while a Secure Plus Plan has been reduced to $17.99/month (multi-camera).
Arlo was originally a Netgear sub-brand before it spun off into its own standalone company. It’s now 100 per cent just a home automation company with a particular focus on smart home cameras, although you can also get Arlo-branded devices such as baby monitors and doorbells.
Arlo used to offer seven days of free recording – and it still does if you have older “legacy” Arlo devices – but for all new Arlo cameras, you’ll need to factor in subscription pricing once the bundled subscription expires. Arlo differentiates between single-camera and multi-camera subscription plans, with the primary difference between the Secure and Secure Plus plans is being able to record in either 2K or 4K resolution.
Where to buy:
The Arlo Essential XL Spotlight Camera is currently on sale for $188 (down from $279). If you’re looking for something to position outside your home, the Arlo Technologies Video Doorbell is also currently discounted at $197 (down from $289).
But if you want to go bigger, brighter and with more camera coverage, look to the Arlo Ultra 4K UHD wire-free 3-camera system. It’s now on sale for $997 (down from $1,449). It features a 180-degree panoramic view, Alexa-compatible voice control and noise-cancelling technology that will reduce the sound of wind and rain in your footage.
Pricing: From $169 to $549.
Subscription pricing: $9/month or $90/year for Nest Aware, $18/month or $180/year for Nest Aware Plus.
Nest is a fully owned Google brand, and one that the search giant’s taken very much to heart, switching the branding on all its home smart gear from straight “Google” to Nest as its absorbed the smart camera maker into its operation.
It relies strongly on its AI features, with the free tier only offering simple alerts – you’ll have to upgrade to a Nest Aware or Nest Aware Plus subscription to actually store recordings picked up by a Nest camera. Nest Aware stores recordings for up to 30 days, while Nest Aware Plus has 60 days of storage plus a 10 day rolling 24/7 recording archive. Either tier covers any number of Nest devices in your home.
Where to buy:
Shop the Google Nest Indoor Camera now for $118.99 (down from $229). With one, you can secure your home 24/7 and receive alerts on your phone in case anything happens when you’re away.